I’m pretty judge-y when it comes to Christmas carols. I’ve always found “The Little Drummer Boy” well– annoying. It strikes me as repetitive and a little whiny. And the stop motion, 1968, film version is way too sad to describe as bringing holiday cheer. But this year, while listening to my favorite version of the song, which you can listen to below, I had an epiphany.
I’ll walk you though it below without most of the rum-pa-pum-pums.
Come, they told me, A new-born King to see.
Our finest gifts we bring, To lay before the King, So to honor Him, When we come: The invitation to kneel before the babe who would become our Savior is one that is extended every year to each of us. And it’s easy to think we ned to be like the wisemen, outfitted with the most prized and perfected gifts the world has to offer. It’s a good instinct, however–
Baby Gesu, I am a poor boy, too: The number of times a year, or a day, that I feel myself confessing my intellectual, spiritual, and temporal poverty to the Lord would probably make most folks feel like royalty.
I have no gift to bring, That’s fit to give a King: It’s easy to look at our talents and treasures and judge them by the Twits-Book-Stigram standards of excellence. We judge ourselves, disqualify ourselves from worthiness to approach the Divine, before we even really try.
Shall I play for you, On my drum? : It may seem small, simple, possibly even inappropriate for the moment, but if we never make the offering, we’ll never know–
Mary nodded, The ox and lamb kept time: that the universe supports us, boosts us, joins us in our efforts to build and share our skills and talents. When we offer, we will be shocked at the enthusiasm of acceptance that awaits.
I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him (Pa-rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum): Our best effort is required, that’s true. But if we forget ourselves and simply go to work, in time efforts will stack upon efforts, time spent in practice and performance will accumulate to create results we could not have imagined in the beginning.
Then, he smiled at me, Me and my drum: The truth that settled on me as listened to this song I’d heard a thousand times is the Savior smiles when we present our talents, simple though they may be. When we create as He creates, when we study to attain all that He knows, when we strive to increase the attributes He embodies He smiles upon on our righteous efforts. What wouldn’t we do to make him smile?
In a world of uncertain futures, it can feel like creative pursuits are foolish or the purview of a chosen few on whom the world heaps all its praise and remuneration. But the Savior only requires our best effort, our new daily offering of the talents He has asked us to magnify. I think this year, though I am hoping for a rainy winter here in the desert, all I want for Christmas is the fortitude to continue in the path he’s asked me to walk and the courage to ask, “Shall I play for you?” at every opportunity.
May the joy of the season and the Light of Christ be with you no matter where you are. And in the New Year may you pick up your drum, no matter how poor you feel, and bring a smile to the Savior’s face.